MAD: Aliens vs. Predator Requiem: Noir

(2017 Alex Shaw/Watched on MP4)

Another edit, this time on a fucking repulsive wreck of a movie. I have hated the few viewings of this I’ve undertaken in the past. For me it will always be dead last in both the Alien and Predator franchises. Nothing could be worse than this. At once a shitty knock-off of both Alien 1 and Predator 2 (as in clueless civilians come up against first one monster, then the other) along the lines of Alien vs. Hunter or the other cynical, merit-free shite that The Asylum churn out to cash in on the success of other movies they hope to be confused with, AND somehow simultaneously an ACTUAL instalment in both of these franchises, legitimate, licensed and funded by Fox in the most baffling case of paying for beef and getting delivered a turd in a bag!

EVERYTHING is wrong with this movie. The actors are terrible no-name amateurs who churn out dismal performances that are far better suited to daytime soap operas, as are they. If everybody overacted like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Troll 2 or Mortal Kombat Anihilation it would at least be funny, but it’s not. Just baseline sub-mediocrity that has no place in cinema. I can’t remember a single character name. Nobody has an arc, there’s no story, the effects are rubbish, the music (and I like Tyler Bates) is totally generic, the script is nothing, just a collection of dull conversations, some of them shouted.

Worst of all is the direction by the Brothers Strauss, a pair of effects guys handed a major project very unwisely. They have no comprehension of how to frame or light a scene. Everything is pitchy dark and indistinct so you have no clue what’s going on, and with all of the above in place nobody could possibly care anyway.

What’s actually going on is that after the first movie a Predalien hatches and infiltrates a shuttle of the Predator mother ship, which is inexplicably sent back to Earth as they are passing Saturn and before they know this beastie is on board. The creature kills the crew and the shuttle crashes in rural America. Facehuggers find humans, Aliens hatch. A Predator on the homeworld, like Mr Wolf in Pulp Fiction journeys to Earth to clean up the mess and dispose of both beasties and witnesses. Only lightly armed for no reason, he picks up more weapons from the crash site.

If this was a story ABOUT the Wolf Predator, that would be an interesting take. So this was how I pitched my re-edit.

Firstly I removed the colour. It looks like shit anyway so I wondered whether it was possible to give it some B-Movie clout and evoke the classic creature features of a bygone age when it wasn’t relying on a modern palette. Secondly I wondered if the removal of colour information would make the contrast of shadow and what little light was available would make the creatures more scary and actually make details conversely a little clearer. Side note, the first time I ever watched Predator was late at night in my room, as a young lad, on an old black and white TV, and it very quickly became one of my favourite films, so clearly it CAN work very well without colour.

Two scenes in the film make me sick to my stomach. The Predalien has a particular special ability thought up by a man with a brain like Cartman. This gets pretty strong so you might want to skip a paragraph. It deliberately seeks out pregnant women and impregnates them in the face, pumping multiple embryos down their throats and directly into their occupied womb. Later they burst forth screaming from the soft bellies of these terrified even-more vulnerable women. Now point one, women are not tubes. Point two, if there is a baby in their womb there is LESS room for a chest burster, not more. Point three, what the fuck is wrong with you? I mean that, the screenwriter needs to seek professional help. What kind of nasty little shit dreams that up? And which coke-addled Fox executive gives it the go ahead? Either way, this happens to a pregnant waitress and then again in a maternity ward. No variation, same sick fucking concept, both scenes and their payoffs are now gone from AvPR Noir. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

There’s also a scene at the beginning where a young boy watches his dad lose an arm and then they both get facehugged. Now killing kids in horror is something to be done by a pro like Steven Spielberg in Jaws or Tarantino and Rodriguez in From Dusk Till Dawn or Steven King in IT and Salem’s Lot. It’s shit in this, but I’m not morally opposed to kids dying in horror, just take out the salaciousness of it. All I did was cut the moment when the boy’s chest actually bursts, because who actually wants to see that? The Wolf STILL skins and makes a trophy out of some poor guy who witnesses him, which is nonsensical because he’s here on cleanup, not any kind of macho trip, but I had to leave that in because limp though it may be, the cop investigation is contingent on this.

Now with the Predalien robbed of its only repugnant speciality all it constitutes is a big Alien with dreadlocks so the focus is back a little more on the Wolf. To break up the relentless black and white and accentuate the colour most often associated with the Predator, I garnished the scenes of the Wolf with an effect in Premier named Red Noir which allows the colour red to filter through the black and white, Sin City style. This means his distinctive three dot targeting lasers, in-mask scanning and the display on the gauntlet, as well as the red lights on the plinth which the Scar Predator is laid at the beginning, (the best shot in the movie, because it was scavenged from the Paul WS Anderson original), have these striking red highlights lending each scene where he stalks and takes on the Aliens an interesting bit of extra visual flair.

The question is though, did it help? Is the movie actually good now?

Well it’s certainly less straight to video generic looking. Unfortunately to make a shot look good in monochrome it needs to look good in colour first. It needs to be lit in a manner that highlights detail rather than hides everything in blurry shadow. There is so little focus to every shot that the brilliant YouTube series “Every Frame a Painting” would struggle to find a SINGLE frame which was even vaguely noteworthy. I had a bitch of a time getting example pictures for this piece. These men should never be allowed to direct again. A random man on the street with a smartphone would, statistically speaking, have a better understanding of how to capture a subject photographically.

This is an attempt to polish a bagged turd. The result is a moderately less obnoxious overall film. I kicked it off with the Fox fanfare that leaves you hanging that was at the beginning of Alien 3. I finished with Long Tall Sally by Little Richard, same as in Predators, because if I’m going to inject some personality it may as well be imported from other less loved entries in the series. Because ultimately this film is incapable of inspiring me to come up with original combinations of music.  If Zack Snyder hadn’t used it in Dawn of the Dead and James Mangold hadn’t used it erroneously at the end of Logan I *might* have used “When the Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash, but regardless of prior use, the film simply never earns this.

As I had hoped, the Wolf Predator does come off as slightly more menacing, more interesting to watch, more striking in black and white with red highlights, but there’s no escaping the fact that he’s a mean spirited fuck, the humans are boring as a sack of footballer biographies and the Aliens are just snarling bugs that hide in corners. Less Xenomorph, more Wienermorph. It’s still utterly dismal to watch. The worst thing to happen to both franchises and it would have been an embarrassment if anybody had actually seen it!

In Sharon’s words, what I achieved here by trimming out the worst of it was a recobbled meal of basic creature feature that you can finally swallow because it hasn’t been sprayed with skunk jizz. Her words not mine.

How utterly sad and fucking flabbergasting that James Cameron, in return for him debasing one of his greatest films, opted to gift to screenwriter Shane Salerno scripting duties on Avatars 2, 3, 4 and 5. If I call him a beardy git can I please write Terminator 6?

 

Author: Alex Shaw

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